Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween drinks from Tipsy Bartender

Happy Halloween, at least for those of my readers in the Western Hemisphere!*  This year, I'm marking the holiday with the five most recent drink recipes for the holiday from the Tipsy Bartender, beginning with the first one posted, Ez-Squeeze Candy Corn Jello Shots - (Halloween).

Super easy to make Candy Corn Jello Shots!

White Layer
1 Packet Pina Colada Ez Jello Mix
2 1/2 Cups Water
1 1/2 Cups Coconut Rum
Orange Layer
1 Packet Orange Crushed Ez Jello Mix
2 1/2 Cups Hot Water
1 1/2 Cups Butterscotch Schnapps
Yellow Layer
1 Packet Lemon Drop Ez Jello Shot Mix
Skyy, Cecilia, and Bobbi are having way too much fun in the outtakes.  I'm not embedding it, so you'll have to click on the window yourself to see it.

Follow over the jump for the other five videos, where you can enjoy both the booze and the women (and in the next to last, Skyy himself) wearing their Halloween costumes.  I also included a bonus science history lesson after the next video.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

$2.89 arrived sooner than I expected

Only a day later, it's time already time to revisit the two opinions with which I opened The limbo bar drops four cents to $2.93.  First, the good news and bad news.
Today, the three stations down the street lowered their prices to $2.93.  That's a surprise, but at least it's not $2.91.  I dodged that bullet by only two cents.  I have until the end of this week to not have to eat my words on the price.  As for the corner station, it's only a matter of time before it matches the rest.
The real good news is that the corner station matched the rest at $2.93.  The weasely good news is that the other didn't lower their prices to $2.91.  The actual bad news, at least for my ability to prognosticate, is this:
As for what to expect next, GasBuddy shows the national average is still $3.03, but just barely.  The Detroit average has finally fallen below $3.00 and is now just above $2.99.  As George Takei would say, oh my!  I might see $2.89 sooner than I thought.
It arrived yesterday, as two of the stations down the street dropped their price for regular to $2.89 and for midgrade to $2.99.  My wife filled up the new car with midgrade.  Meanwhile, the sound you hear is me eating my words.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The limbo bar drops four cents to $2.93

I'm glad I didn't specify what I meant by "soon" in Gas ticks downward once more.
[T]he Detroit average is $3.01.  No wonder the local outlets dropped their prices.  Somehow, I doubt they'll go to $2.91 soon, but $2.89 sometime in the next two months looks very likely.
Today, the three stations down the street lowered their prices to $2.93.  That's a surprise, but at least it's not $2.91.  I dodged that bullet by only two cents.  I have until the end of this week to not have to eat my words on the price.  As for the corner station, it's only a matter of time before it matches the rest.

As for what to expect next, GasBuddy shows the national average is still $3.03, but just barely.  The Detroit average has finally fallen below $3.00 and is now just above $2.99.  As George Takei would say, oh my!  I might see $2.89 sooner than I thought.

Before I look at commodity prices to see what they foretell, I'm going to share this video from PBS Newshour asking What's behind the sudden drop in US gas prices?

According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of regular gas in the U.S. dropped from $3.52 in late July to $3.12 today. Isaac Arnsdorf, an energy and commodities reporter with Bloomberg News, joins Hari Sreenivasan to explain the factors contributing to the drop.
Yes, it's a week old, so the gas price data are out of date, but the analysis of what happened and what it means are still valid.

Follow over the jump for the latest in crude oil and wholesale gasoline prices from the Wall Street Journal.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Psychology of campaign ads and other election stories

It's time for the next installment of election news from campuses on the campaign trail.  I begin with an article from The Gazette of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that I used as the top story of last Saturday's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Psychology of Campaign Ads) on Daily Kos.*

Psychology behind the political ads
What ads say, what ads mean and how the messages stick with us
By Erin Jordan, The Gazette
Published: October 19 2014
CEDAR RAPIDS — Television these days is filled with drama, name-calling and emotional button-pushing.

And those are just the political ads.

The Gazette asked Iowa political scientists, communications experts and psychologists to analyze the tactics used in political ads that have been blistering the Eastern Iowa airwaves. Amid the heartfelt testimonials, mudslinging attacks and goofy spots with national actors are some new strategies for 2014.

“We break down ads looking at verbals, nonverbals and video production style,” explained Dianne Bystrom, director of Iowa State University’s Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics. “Men and women running against each other have adapted styles that are very similar to one another.”
Here are some of the other findings from the article, beginning with my favorite.
Parties prioritize different values

Conservative candidates tend to play up the group mentality more than liberals, said Daryl Cameron, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Iowa. He pointed to Ernst and other Republicans drawing attention to Braley’s gaffe of apparently criticizing veteran U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley for not having a law degree.

“Ernst is trying to push buttons by saying, ‘He (Braley) isn’t one of us, he’s betraying the group,’” Cameron said.

Liberals, on the other hand, tend to emphasize fairness and distribution of resources over other values, he said.
Yes, the major parties really are different.  ideologies and interest groups matter to American political parties, although Duverger's Law mostly limits the choices to two.

What about a factor that transcends party?
When male and female political candidates face off, they talk about a different set of issues than in male-versus-male races, Bystrom said.

Bystrom, who has been studying mixed-gender elections for U.S. Senate that have occurred since 1990, said these races traditionally have focused more on education, Social Security and health care. An all-male race might include more discussion of war and crime.

The economy, she said, has become gender neutral.
The sexes are different, too.

The article includes more findings, such as why negative ads work, how fear and disgust play a part in politics (see the video at the end of Food Fight! Thoughts on liberalism and conservatism inspired by the Preface to Food, Inc. for how these work better on conservatives), and how a dialog of sorts can be achieved with campaign ads.  It also offers this helpful note.
If the negative ads are getting you down, take heart. As we get closer to the Nov. 4 election, Iowans should see the return of the positive ads, experts said.

And after Election Day, we’ll get back to the usual commercials using psychology to sell us cars, prescription drugs and junk food.
To say nothing of getting us to buy Christmas presents.  Ah, the stink of retail desperation!

Follow over the jump for more election stories from campuses on the campaign trail.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Gas ticks downward once more

When Gas below $3.00 arrived in my neighborhood, two of the three stations down the street were at $2.99.  Shortly afterward, the rest of the stations joined them.  The corner station peeked out of its trench into No Man's Land, but raised its price to only $3.01.  By the next day, it had returned into its shelter at $2.99.  Yesterday, I noticed all the stations had lowered their price to $2.97, another record low in the history of the blog.

Speaking of low prices, GasBuddy shows that my prediction that the national average for gas would remain above $3.10 is no longer valid.  The national average is $3.03.  I knew that would happen.  Also, the Detroit average is $3.01.  No wonder the local outlets dropped their prices.  Somehow, I doubt they'll go to $2.91 soon, but $2.89 sometime in the next two months looks very likely.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Zombies, gangsters, and sideshows

I'm finally making good on one of the topics I promised last week, but copped out on when I posted World Series Music--Lorde's 'Royals' vs. They Might be Giants' 'San Francisco'--entertainment leftovers from the past month's Overnight News Digests.*

Before I serve the leftovers from campuses on the campaign trail, I present this appetizer from Cracked, which explains 4 Ways Terrible Zombie Movies Foretell the End of Society so I don't have to.
#4. Zombie Movies Explained the Horrors of Our Society ... Until They Stopped

[Z]ombie stories get me every time...[b]ecause they're a story where our monster plays like a societal problem. Zombies are an insistent and dramatically useful malevolent force you can plan against...[I]f you're facing a corrupted mob of fellow PTA members operating in ways that can be scientifically studied like a sociological phenomenon? Time to grab some guns and potable water, and find out if your personal politics are compatible with the real world.

I can't defend any non-pilot episode of The Walking Dead, but damned if their third season poster tagline doesn't sum up what makes zombie movies worthwhile. Fight the dead, fear the living, and find out what makes society work and what's killing it in the process. George A. Romero formatted the whole genre that way: an implacable zombie epidemic pushes the surviving members of society to face their racism or consumerism or municipal governing corruption, and they either survive by fixing it or die instructively.
#3. We're All Convinced Society Is Screwed
[W]hat's worse than our disagreements (and what's magnifying them) is that we're sure our only problem-fixing apparatus is broken. If Congress doesn't work, and capitalism is robbing us blind, maybe Western, free-ish market democracy doesn't work. But if we re-elect that democracy's leaders every chance we get, and we don't have any better social arrangements in mind, and our favorite new levers of change like Occupy-ing and the Internet and hashtivism don't accomplish anything ... well, shit. Are we really out of ideas?
#2. If We Invented a Way to Save the World, We'd Work It Into the Next Great Zombie Movie
Zombie fiction can work the same way. It's basically science fiction already, just instead of (or in addition to) future technology changing our lives, it has got future biocatastrophe turning us into Earth/space's rough-and-tumble badasses. And biocatastrophe is the perfect sandbox for SF-prototyping new social models.
#1. What's Left of Zombie Movies Casts Us as the Zombies
These days, every one of us is changing the world! As long as a sluggish horde of other people are in lockstep with us...[I]f anything, our undead mob is good at entertaining itself. And maybe it'll start to demand better entertainment from the artists making today's zombie epics.
I couldn't have said this better myself.  Thank you, Cracked, for showing how humor is good at telling the truth, especially these days, when the comedians are sometimes the only ones who dare to do so.

Follow over the jump for entertainment news from campuses on the campaign trail, including more on zombies.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Michigan vs. MSU--battle of the research press releases

Today is the Michigan-Michigan State game, and it doesn't look good for my alma mater.  MSU has six wins and one loss and is ranked either 5th or 8th, while Michigan is unranked with three wins and four losses.  According to the Free Press, MSU is favored by 17 points.  That's probably understating the likely magnitude of the predicted loss.  The Sagarin computer rankings at USA Today have MSU ranked 10th while Michigan is ranked 70th and indicate a likely margin of victory of 22 points.  If I were a betting man, I'd put money on MSU to beat the spread, as much as it would pain me.  Fortunately, gambling is not one of my vices.

Since the action on the football field won't favor Michigan, I'll have to pick another form of competition between the state's flagship university and its land-grant university.  I'll be a good environmentalist and recycle the concept of Research from BCS Championship universities and feature both schools' research.  Follow over the jump for the press releases of the two institutions that I orginally included in Overnight News Digest on Daily Kos during October, beginning with a sneak peek at what I'm including in today's edition.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Food news for Food Day 2014

A happy Food Day to all of my readers!  To celebrate the day,* I present a linkspam of food news, beginning with Discovery News asking Are Healthy Foods REALLY More Expensive?

Healthy foods: Are they more expensive than foods that are bad for you? Tara takes a look at some recent research that might confirm this theory.
That's a video I should show my class, especially after they've seen 'Food, Inc.'

Now for something a little less serious from Discovery News, The Surprising Benefit Of Reheating Pasta!

There's nothing better than leftover pasta, and now science has a reason to love it even more! Tara reveals some surprising evidence that cold pasta might be good for your diet!
Cool, but I'm not showing this one to my students.

Follow over the jump for food news from the past two months of Overnight News Digest on Daily Kos.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Partial solar eclipse at sunset today

For every lunar eclipse, there is a paired solar eclipse within two weeks.  Sure enough, a fortnight after the last lunar eclipse, there will be a solar eclipse today.  Science at NASA posted the original video ScienceCasts: Sunset Solar Eclipse.
On October 23rd, the Moon will pass in front of the sun, off-center, producing a partial solar eclipse visible in most of the United States.
Last I checked, that version of the video wouldn't embed.  However, its clone at on YouTube does: Partial Solar Eclipse - How To View It | Video.

Warning: Do not look directly at the Sun. On October 23rd, 2014, most of the North America will be treated to the eclipse. Viewing from the eastern U.S. will be especially beautiful, weather permitting, due to it occurring at the end of the day.
With any luck, I'll be able to see the setting sun from inside my classroom.  I hope my readers have a good view, too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

World Series Music--Lorde's 'Royals' vs. They Might be Giants' 'San Francisco'

It's time to make good on that entertainment entry I promised at least four times.  However, tonight I'm not posting about any of the topics I suggested--Gamergate, college bands doing zombie marching band shows, or entertainment leftovers from the past month's Overnight News Digests.  Instead, I'm posting music for the World Series.  Thank Vox for the inspiration: Bay area radio stations realize Lorde’s “Royals” is Kansas City-inspired, freak the hell out.
Two San Francisco radio stations have put the kibosh on Lorde's song "Royals" until the World Series is over. Baseball, apparently, is much more important than Lorde singing about having "never seen a diamond in the flesh."
That's wanky.  It's also a good excuse to play her song here.

Music video by Lorde performing Royals.
How did one of the Kansas City radio stations respond?
"We won't let their anti-Royals spirit ruin this moment," said Tony Lorino, Program Director of 99.7 The Point. "A few angry San Franciscans who don't have a song called ‘Giants' won't rain on our parade."
I don't know of any pop songs with the title "Giants," but the band They Might Be Giants has a song called "San Francisco."

From TMBGs Venue Songs "San Francisco (In Situ)" recorded live at the Fillmore. A tip of the hat to jlassen's photostream on flickr for the fine zombie photos used in this slide show presentation!
Giants fans, you can thank me later.  After all, I'm originally from California, so I'm rooting for your team.

Also, zombies!  I managed to post about a band using a zombie theme after all.